Pereira rallied late to defeat Adesanya via fifth-round TKO in the UFC 281 main event. Adesanya appeared minutes away from retaining the middleweight title, but Pereira proved to be his kryptonite once again with a late flurry of punches.
Pereira pressured Adesanya against the cage with minutes left in the fight, unloading with a series of punches that landed flush to Adesanya’s chin. After nearly knocking down Adesanya, referee Marc Goddard stepped in to stop the fight, despite Adesanya’s protest.
Adesanya continued his protest in his post-fight press conference, saying that he would still be champion if the referee had been someone other than Goddard. UFC analysts Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier said immediately after the fight that they felt the stoppage was fair.
Ironically, Adesanya made a pre-UFC 281 tongue-in-cheek request to White for referee Steve Mazzagatti to officiate the fight. During his time refereeing UFC fights, Mazzagatti was notorious for late stoppages.
Dana White Agrees With Israel Adesanya/Alex Pereira Stoppage
During the UFC 281 post-fight press conference, White gave his thoughts on the ending of Adesanya vs. Pereira.
“Yeah, I didn’t have a problem with the stoppage. He was hurt. He obviously wasn’t out, but he seemed pretty hurt to me.”
White also went on to point out that an immediate rematch between Adesanya and Pereira is on the table following UFC 281.
Pereira earned the title shot after three fights in the UFC. He earned wins over Sean Strickland, Bruno Silva, and Andreas Michailidis en route to the title shot.
Adesanya held the UFC’s No. 2 spot on the pound-for-pound list, with recent title defenses over Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier. His loss to Pereira is his first middleweight MMA loss and his defeat overall since losing to Jan Blachowicz.
The controversy surrounding the Adesanya/Pereira stoppage isn’t as divisive as other questionable UFC endings, although it may partially add to the case for an immediate rematch between them.
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